Plea to fix, not dump, appliances

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 November, 2009, 12:00am

Manufacturers are being urged to extend warranty periods, charge reasonable maintenance fees and make sure they stock spares to encourage owners to have their electrical appliances repaired instead of dumping them and buying new ones.

A green group says high repair bills that exceed the cost of a new product are damaging the environment by causing faulty equipment to be dumped when it could be fixed.

Friends of the Earth said it had dealt with at least eight cases in which owners complained of high fees and lack of required spare parts when they tried to have products repaired.

One, Leung Hei-tong, said he paid about HK$600 for an inkjet printer last year but he found about a year later that one of the ink cartridges could not connect to the printer. When he took it to the maker for repair, he was told he would have to pay at least HK$800 - HK$100 for a basic checking fee, HK$500 for labour and the rest for parts.

'The maintenance fee was higher than the cost of a new printer so I bought a new one,' Leung said.

He took the broken one to Friends of the Earth for further action.

Michelle Au Wing-tsz, Friends of the Earth senior environmental affairs officer, said: 'As the electronic products become cheaper, consumers find buying a new one cheaper than the maintenance cost.'

Environmental Protection Department figures show the city generated 67,200 tonnes of waste electrical and electronic equipment in 2005, 68,600 tonnes in 2006, 70,100 tonnes in 2007 and 71,400 tonnes last year.

An Epson spokesman said a product's maintenance fee and warranty period were set as market standard and varied for different products. Epson would collect old machines after trade-in to ensure proper disposal.

A Nokia spokesman said maintenance fees were not standardised and depended on the repair required by the product.

A Sony spokesman said it had special offers for warranty extension and recognised responsibility for ensuring appropriate disposal of products.